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Frequently Asked Questions

What if a student does not pass the first time? Students who do not pass the exam in the tenth grade will have several opportunities to take it again during their junior and senior years. Once they have passed either part of the exam, they will not be tested again on that part. By state law, students who do not pass a part of the exam must be offered extra instruction to learn what they need to know in order to pass. It is up to each school and district to decide how to provide this instruction. To find out what type of help is available and when the exam will be given again at your school, contact the principal or a counselor at your high school.

What if a student is a senior and still has not passed the CAHSEE? Assembly Bill (AB347) states that you are entitled to receive intensive instruction and services for up to two consecutive academic years after completion of grade 12 or until you have passed both parts of the exit examination, whichever comes first. Also, you have the right to file a complaint regarding those services through the Uniform Complaint Procedure as set forth in California Education Code Section 35186.

What if a student has special needs? If a student has an individualized education program (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, it should describe any special arrangements the student is entitled to while taking an exam. Special arrangements for taking the CAHSEE are categorized as either “accommodations” or “modifications.” It is important to understand the difference between them because it may affect a student’s score on the exam.

An accommodation does not alter what the test measures—for example, taking extra breaks during the exam or using a test booklet with large print.

A modification fundamentally alters what the exam measures—for example, using a calculator on the mathematics part of the exam or hearing an audio presentation of the questions on the ELA part of the exam.

Students must be permitted to use any accommodations or modifications on the CAHSEE that are specified for testing purposes in their IEP or Section 504 Plan. Students who take the exam using an accommodation receive a score just as any other student does. However, students who use a modification receive a numeric score followed by the word “MODIFIED.If the student receives a score of 350 or higher, the student may be eligible for a waiver. This is done, in part, by presenting evidence proving that the student has gained the knowledge and skills otherwise needed to pass the CAHSEE.

More information about the procedure for requesting a waiver, including a list of modifications and accommodations, can be accessed on CDE’s CAHSEE Web site or by talking with a high school principal.

What if a student is still learning to speak and read in English? All students must pass the CAHSEE to be eligible for a high school diploma. Students who are English learners are required to take the CAHSEE in grade ten with all students. However, the law says that during their first 24 months in a California school, they are to receive six months of special instruction in reading, writing, and comprehension in English. Additionally, English learners must be permitted to take the CAHSEE with certain test variations if used regularly in the classroom. A student who does not pass the exam in grade ten will have additional opportunities to pass it.

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